Alright East coasters. It looks like this hurricane season you are about to experience a Southern norm. The Granddaddy of all coastal weather—the hurricane. By now you likely boarded the windows, taken inventory of your canned goods, stockpiled water, gotten the go-ahead to stay home from work or school and are not exactly sure what you’d do with your time if Joaquin had bombarded your coast with rain, high winds and power outages. Let’s just say I know what you’re going through. I’ve lived through Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Ike, Tropical Storm Allison and countless others that were prepped for but wound up not being as bad as Houston weatherman Frank Billingsley made us think they’d be. The onset of a hurricane can be pretty scary, understandably and rightfully so. If your area is not being evacuated, and you are advised by local officials to bunker down in your home, take it from a native Houstonian, the best way to get through the stress of a hurricane is to have a hurricane party. Yes, I said it. You CAN have fun while the fate of your town’s survival during a Category 4 storm is unknown. (Using humor to outweigh fear is healthy, right?)
Limit party invites to those you really like. AKA, those you wouldn’t mind being trapped at the end of the world with. Hopefully a hurricane isn’t the end of the world, but depending on the severity of the storm, it is a definite possibility that you could be stuck with these folks for a few days. I’d say only family, significant others and super close friends who have nowhere safe to go. We once invited a family with two young children under the age of six to stay with us during a storm and let me just say… 80 mph winds never looked so appealing. Have everyone come over well before the storm and prepare to stay for the duration. Park cars on safe, high ground. Ask guests to bring sleeping bags, blankets and pillows for the twenty-something slumber party fort of a lifetime! It’s just like a childhood lock-in! Except for, y’know, the actual danger in going outdoors before the event is over.
So you’ve got the usual essentials—bottled water (or San Pellegrino, depending on how much better you think you are than other people,) canned drinks and juices—stored and ready to go. But now you need to make it a party. It’s a hurricane party, so what should you make? HURRICANES, OBV. Check out this recipe for simple hurricanes at home. Another kitschy option is to make a Dark & Stormy. Red wine is a great choice, too, because it doesn’t have to be cold to enjoy and likely your fridge will be on the fritz throughout Joaquin’s reign. Though walking around in the dark, goblet of red wine in hand, with only the light of a candle as your guide may not be the best idea.
Odds are the power will be out for a while during the storm. All the food for this party should come out of a can or a box. Think Pop-Tarts, Cheez-Its, baked beans, crackers and bread. If you’re really smart, you can stock a few giant coolers full of ice to keep some essentials cold—lunch meats and cheeses for sandwiches, fruit and crudités if you want to get really fancy. But beware! These cold items become hot commodities around day two of having no electricity. So be prepared to guard the coolers with your life against your guests once the cabin fever starts to kick in. In the Game Of Hurricanes, you either win or you die while eating another bowl of dry cereal.
Two words: batteries and candles. These are the best tools for the perfect hurricane party lighting. Stock up on enough batteries for flashlights or stand up lanterns to last you a while. If you want to partake in any activities at night such as board games, reading books or writing in your diary like Anne Frank, you’ll need hours and hours of reliable light. Candles are preferred, as they give off a less harsh ambiance and as a bonus, make you feel like you’re living in the pioneer days!
Typical party music isn’t really a thing at hurricane parties, because unless you’ve got a generator-run MacBook, you’ll be out of electronics sooner rather than later. Radios will need to be saved for news and weather updates and wi-fi will be out. That said, if you have a piano or acoustic guitar, have a sing-a-long! Other hurricane party activities include board games by candlelight and strip poker! Unless you’re with your family, of course, then case you can play poker for Oreos, which let’s be honest is as valuable as money in times like these. Another fun game is “Never Have I Ever,” which should be played with caution! You don’t want to reveal something super controversial in front of your Mom and then be stuck with her and her side-eye for days. The candlelight is also perfect for telling ghost stories, an old pastime of hurricane parties. Well, of my hurricane parties, at least. If you’re too much of a fraidy-cat, just remember that it’s October, the wind will be literally howling and your life will already be at risk, so go big or go home!
As you can see, the makings of a hurricane party are pretty simple. A little planning, a proper guest list and a food stock that would make an extreme couponer jealous is all you need. In all seriousness, darlings, be careful out there! Storms are serious and our lighthearted jokes mean nothing if you’re not safe. Hopefully Joaquin goes easy on you and your families.